Commercializing Science: Technology Strategy and Business Models for Science-Based Enterprises - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Commercializing Science: Technology Strategy and Business Models for Science-Based Enterprises

Course Number 2107

Professor Gary Pisano
Professor of Management Practice Vicki L. Sato
Commercializing Science: Technology Strategy and Business Models for Science-Based Enterprises
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
13 2-hour sessions

From life sciences and advanced materials to energy and electronics, companies seeking to develop and commercialize novel science are playing an increasingly important role in today's economy. Such science-based enterprises face unusual challenges. They must manage high technical and market risks, deal with complex intellectual property, and navigate the culturally diverse worlds of science and business. Commercializing Science is intended for students who want to start or lead such businesses.

The course covers three main themes: 1) technology strategy 2) business model design, and 3) leadership. We will cover such issues as managing risky technological bets, selecting and resourcing projects, building teams and managing scientists in a commercial setting, incentive design, intellectual property strategies, licensing and partnering, vertical integration decisions, and financing of science-based ventures. The course includes case materials from a broad array of science-based sectors, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, alternative energy and advanced materials.

Commercializing Science is open to Harvard MBA students and to graduate and post-graduate cross registrants from the Harvard Medical School, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Science Engineering and Applied Science, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Law School, and the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. A few undergraduates will be admitted after discussion with the Professors. Approximately 50% of the students in the class will be cross-registrants. This highly diverse student body provides an unusual opportunity for cross-disciplinary learning and engenders discussion that embraces a broad variety of expertise and perspective.

This is a project-based course. Students will have the opportunity to work in self-assembled teams to develop business plans around real intellectual property emerging from scientific research laboratories at Harvard, MIT, and various teaching hospitals. Students will interact regularly with the inventors and project sponsors throughout the course. Teams will also meet regularly with Professors Pisano and Sato. Students are also welcome to bring their own innovative projects to the course (subject to instructors' approval). All teams will be comprised of a mix of MBA and non-MBA students. The project work will require successful cooperation of individuals representing different passions and skill sets, representing the very embodiment of a science-based enterprise. Many projects have entered and performed well in business plan competitions.